Will online gambling geolocation software ever be flawless?
In the history of computer software,
has any program ever been deemed truly flawless? Whether it’s an
internal bug, an external hacker, or a simple rearrangement of
browser coding, it always seems there is one way or another to
cripple a software system.
That’s exactly what one young man
from Nevada was able to do last summer. All it took was a little
browser code observation and alteration, and he was able to place a
wager at a New Jersey online casino – one that, by rule and
discretion, claims to only be capable of accepting wagers from
players psychically located in the state of New Jersey.
Online Gambling Geolocation Software Failure
According to a report that appeared
this morning in Vancouver’s City
News 1130, a flaw was identified in the geolocation system of
the online gambling website of the Hard Rock Casino of Atlantic
It wasn’t the operators of the
iGaming website that found it. It wasn’t the tech heads in the
security or IT departments of the Gaming Innovation Group –
makers of the software – that realized there was a problem.
Regulators at the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
(NJ-DGE), whose job it is to police the industry and ensure the
safety and security of the state’s countless online gamblers, didn’t
find it either. This teeny tiny little flaw was found by one man –
a man with a keen sense of computer program coding languages – all
the way across the country in Nevada.
This young man was able to scour the
seemingly endless source code of the www.HardRockCasino.com website
and identify the exact portion that reads a visitor’s geographical
location. He was then able to alter that segment of the code to make
it look as if he were, in fact, located within the borders of New
Jersey. With that little annoyance out of the way, he was then able
to register an account, make a deposit, and place a simple $29 bet.
The $29 Win that Cost $25,000
The duplicitous player did not win
this bet. It was won by the Hard Rock Casino, but at great cost to
the company that provides its geolocation services. When the online
casino realized what had happened, the issue was immediately reported
to the NJ-DGE. Regulators launched an investigation into the matter
and discovered the flaw in the program, which allowed the Nevada
resident to view and alter the browser code in the first place.
The end result was a $25,000 fine
imposed upon Gaming Innovation Group (GiG); the company responsible
for providing online gambling services to the Hard Rock’s iGaming
portal. It was that company’s job to ensure the geolocation software
would prevent anyone outside of New Jersey from accessing its betting
services. And in that job, the NJ-DGE determined that GiG had failed.
In response to the incident, a
from GiG reads:
“This one-off single incidence of out-of-state gambling was due to a technical vulnerability which was quickly discovered and reported to the regulator in New Jersey in the first week the company went live in New Jersey. An end user from outside the state of New Jersey with technical knowledge managed to access the front end debugger to change the location and pretend to be from New Jersey.”
The company goes on to accept the
penalty for not catching and fixing the flaw before it could be
exploited, and said it is fully committed to maintaining regulatory
compliance “at all times”.
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